A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Epic is an animated adventure from the same studio behind the Ice Age franchise and Rio. Part eco-friendly tale and part tiny-creatures story, Epic (which was inspired by the characters in William Joyce's children's book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs) centers on a teen girl who's magically shrunk into the world of miniscule armed archers called Leafmen who protect the forest from evil. There's a central good vs. evil theme, as well as a parent vs. adolescent storyline that should appeal to kids, but know that there are definitely battles and even a small body count (mostly due to arrows). The main villain is merciless and believes that it's his mission to destroy the forest and rule over a rotting wasteland. In addition to the violence, there's a romantic nature to two relationships in the movie, as well as several flirty (and snotty) jokes courtesy of a slug voiced by Aziz Ansari. Expect some insult language ("stupid," "idiot," etc.).
What's the story?
After her mother dies, teenager Mary Katherine, aka M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), goes to live with her estranged father, Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), a disgraced professor who's convinced that the forests are inhabited by tiny creatures, including armed warrior guards. M.K., like her late mother, thinks her obsessed father is mentally ill ... until she witnesses the death of the tiny forest queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), who entrusts her with the care of a magical bulb that must bloom in that very night's moonlight. Shrunken in the process, M.K. is confused but quickly realizes that her father is right, thanks to the head of the Leafmen, Ronin (Colin Farrell), and his rebellious protege, Nod (Josh Hutcherson), who guard M.K. and the bulb in the hopes of keeping it away from the forest's archenemy, Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), leader of the Boggans -- nefarious creatures who cause rot and destruction. Because if Mandrake and the Boggans can capture the bulb, the forest will turn into a barren wasteland.
Is it any good?
Visually, EPIC captures the beauty of the lush forest in which the majority of the characters live. The greens and browns and vibrant flower palettes are beautiful, and the way that light and dark (the Boggans make everything an ash gray) are used is inspired. The voice actors are all fittingly cast, particularly the comic relief provided by slug-snail pals Mub and Grub (Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd). Farrell is exceptionally believable as a stoic warrior, as is Hutcherson as an orphaned teen who's a gifted fighter but who has trouble following directions. The weak link in casting is Waltz, whose unique Austrian accent works scarily well in live action but has less impact when he's in animated form.
Plot wise, there's also something missing from the story. Epic feels overlong and overly reminiscent of several other animated movies, like The Secret World of Arrietty, Happy Feet, and Antz. The romantic elements seem unnecessary as well, with M.K. and Nod falling into infatuation a bit too quickly and without any of the sweet banter that makes movies like Shrek and Tangled so good. Despite these shortcomings, the movie is just funny and exciting enough to keep kids and parents entertained. But Epic never quite lives up to its riskily self-indulgent title.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how Epic's violence and action compare to other animated movies you've seen. Does it have less impact because many of the characters are fictional creatures and talking animals?
Do you think the romantic subplots (between the queen and the captain or Nod and M.K.) added much to the story? Would the story have been just as good if Nod and M.K. were just good friends?
Although author William Joyce is a co-writer of the film and the Leafmen are based on his book, the rest of the characters don't have anything to do with the original story. Is it confusing when a movie is loosely inspired by a book but doesn't follow the story closely? (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is another example.)
- In theaters: May 24, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 20, 2013
- Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Josh Hutcherson
- Director: Chris Wedge
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Science and Nature
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action, some scary images and brief rude language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.